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First woman SC judge again; SH Kapadia appointed CJI

Chief Justice India SH Kapadia
Chief Justice India SH Kapadia

Supreme Court judge Sarosh Homi Kapadia will take over as Chief Justice of India (CJI) from outgoing CJI K G Balakrishnan on 12 May 2010, while the Supreme Court will have its first female judge in almost four years, the government of India announced today.

The government formally announced the appointment of Kapadia (pictured) as CJI and the swearing in of three new Supreme Court Justices, including Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra who will be the first woman sitting on Supreme Court benches since 2006.

Outgoing CJI Balakrishnan will retire on 11 May after having completed more than three years holding the office of CJI and will be replaced by Kapadia, who will be the country's thirty-eighth CJI.

He is the most senior Supreme Court judge after Balakrishnan, having been elevated to the Supreme Court of India in 2003, which is almost two years before the next-most senior Supreme Court judge Altamas Kabir.

The CJI is India's most senior constitutional judicial position, to which the President of India by convention appoints the judge with the most number of years on the Supreme Court bench.

Kapadia had started his legal career on 10 September 1974 when he was enrolled as an advocate and joined the judiciary as an Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court in 1991 after over 25 years of practice in various Indian courts. In 2003 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Uttaranchal High Court and in December of the same year rose to the Supreme Court of India.

Kapadia is scheduled to retire from the Supreme Court at the mandatory retirement age of 65 on 29 September 2012.

Meanwhile, outgoing CJI Balakrishnan will also swear in three new Supreme Court judges: Madras High Court Chief Justice Hemant Laxman Gokhale, Jharkhand High Court Chief Justice Misra and Bombay High Court Chief Justice Anil Ramesh Dave.

Misra is the first woman to be a Supreme Court judge since the retirement of Justice Ruma Pal in June 2006.

Once Balakrishnan retires, the Supreme Court will consist of a total of 29 sitting judges, out of a maximum of 31. [Clarification: original story mentioned a figure that did not count the newly appointed judges -Ed]

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